5 steps to seeing past disability


#whoknew that disabled people can work too? Sounds shocking, doesn’t it? Of course, they can. Yet according to Gov.uk, less than half disabled people who would like to work are not in employment.


Despite often applying for jobs they’re overqualified for, a disabled person can expect to get a stream of rejections day after day.  Employers are sitting with their hands tied behind their backs in fear of getting it wrong, worried about how much it’ll cost, believing that it’ll mean someone is always off sick. It’s easier just to not go there at all. Yet, disabled people make up one of the most loyal and committed workforces out there and it’s time employers opened their eyes and made a change. This untapped resource has a huge role to play and with little more than a desire to change, British business can make a difference today.

Disability awareness training

We know about inequality in the workplace due to sexism and racism, and society has come a long way in enabling us to be able to openly talk about it. Disability is the difference that we don’t yet know how to address. Line managers and human resources are the gatekeepers –get them trained in disability awareness so they have the confidence to make this change and share it with the company. Everyone has a part to play.  #whoknew cordellhealthealth.co.uk/support is a social enterprise offering support through educating employers and helping employers and individuals make adjustments. Or try https://disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk

Shout about it

Most disabled people are put off jobs before they’ve even applied. Shout about the diversity in your workplace by making sure your disability policy is in clear site on your website and that the applications process is accessible for all.

Interview the person

Interviewing a disabled person shouldn’t be any different to interviewing anyone else. Don’t talk about the difference. Talk about their ability, the job, the responsibilities, how they would envisage themselves fulfilling the role. See past the label and interview the person. If the person thinks they would need some workplace alterations in order to enable them to do the job this can be organised at a later date.

Call in the Support


There are loads of places you can go to get support if a disabled person is right for the job. www.gov.uk/access-to-work offers advice and funding at no cost to the employer. A lot of the time changes needn’t cost anything and can be as simple as offering flexible working hours to miss rush hour on public transport or enabling them to work from home. www.disabilityrightsuk.org/access-work  



Add Value

A diverse workforce is stronger and more creative, the more elements of society it represents, the more views and resources it has to draw on and the better the business’ competitive edge. Not only that, but disabled people are more likely to be engaged and loyal than other employees. After all the best view often comes from the hardest climb….

Do you have diversity in your workplace? It would be great to hear about your experiences of how your colleagues have overcome adversity to fulfil a workplace role.

Moving the focus from disability to ability

Health and Wellbeing @ Work 7-8 March 2017

The Cordell Health team was at the large workplace health conference at the NEC in Birmingham 7-8 March 2017, with a stand and also as speakers.  

Robin chaired the national policy session on day one, with speakers that included Dame Carol Black, the Government’s Expert Advisor on health and work, and Simon Stephens, Chief Executive of the NHS. The Government’s priority is to improve the employment prospects of those with health conditions and disabilities; to reduce the disability-employment gap between the 80% employment rate for those without a disability and only 48% of those with health conditions and disabilities.  

On day two Robin spoke about how through effectively influencing health professionals, employers, and people who have health conditions and disabilities themselves, we can change the focus from disability to ability.  

For health professionals, all consultations for those with long term health conditions should include how they might best be supported in work; for those who have left work due to ill health it is much more difficult to then find another job that makes best use of these people’s skills.  Healthcare interventions should therefore include consideration of how all aspects of that person’s function might be improved including work.  As Dame Carol stated in her talk on Day One, health professionals and the NHS as a whole should see being in good work as a positive health outcome.  

Employers have a major part to play.  By recruiting on the basis of people’s abilities, employers will reap the benefit of committed employees doing the right work for them.  Useful advice for employers may be found in last year’s new international standard, ISO 27500, the human centred organisation.  Our role as health professionals is to advise on setting the conditions for optimal employment, including in our case as occupational health professionals contributing to management training programmes, and for assessment of individual employees or potential employees and recommending reasonable adjustments to “level the playing field” for those with health conditions and disabilities.  

Finally, it is people themselves that are in charge of their own health, as advised by health professionals, and as enabled by their employer or potential employers.  By adopting a positive culture, and empowering all employees “to be the best they can be”, organisations will realise the benefit of a workforce that feels good about themselves, so improving motivation and retention of skilled staff, and through demonstrating the value this brings to customers in terms of service and quality of products from a motivated workforce, to enhance business financial performance. People with long terms health conditions may well have impairments that lead to disabilities, but it is their abilities that really matter to them and all around them.

See Robin’s presentation to the Health and Wellbeing @ Work Conference for 2017, Leadership through influence - what works to improve health and work? 

Guidance for employers: do I need to introduce health surveillance for my workforce – and if so how do I go about organising this?

HSE has just recently launched its new strategy, with a particular emphasis on health: Helping Great Britain work well.  This is available online at http://www.hse.gov.uk/strategy/index.htm.  An element of this strategy is the need for employers to be alert to risks to health, and for health surveillance to be in place when this is required.  

Employers will know of the requirements placed on them within the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  Those in the manufacturing and construction sectors especially will be aware of specific legislation such as the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002.  Depending on the industry, legislation relating to asbestos, lead and ionising radiation may also apply.

Common to all these regulations and their associated approved codes of practice is the need for risk assessment, and where risks are identified to the health of the workforce, to introduce health surveillance.  In some cases health surveillance is compulsory; HSE provides a useful decision making guide.  

However, not all employers may be aware of specific duties in protecting the health and safety of their employees.  In my experience this can be the case where the majority of the workforce are not significantly exposed to major physical or chemical hazards.  Health surveillance is a programme of health checks targeted on those identified as being at risk through risk assessment, and following consideration of control measures.  

Having identified a potential need for health surveillance, and having consulted the HSE guidance, we can advise managers, and also arrange for an assessment visit to your premises should this be helpful, by contacting us via the form on our website or by email to enquiries@cordellhealth.co.uk.